Johnny Masilela

Wishing Justin Steyn, our pragtige ou seun, all the best


Johnny Masilela   l   Views: 65

As a senior journalist over a considerable period of time, there are many young reporters I can proudly claim to have shaped.

Most prominent among the cream of the crop was the late Andrew Molefe, who passed on while a value chain editor at the Sowetan.

The late Ray Phiri mentioned Andrew’s poignant mastery of the English language, always when we met as board members of the National Arts Council.

One line Bra Ray liked recalling was when Andrew jokingly declared that he was of the Khoi, Griqua and/or Nama origin.

“Oftentimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my people drifting across the Kalahari.” That was vintage Andrew, for you!

I personally remember post-1994 when an African-American publisher enlisted Andrew as his Southern Africa correspondent.

Andrew impressed on me that the Yank publisher insisted that he interview the likes of Moeletsi Mbeki.

When he failed to crack the interview, Andrew lied to the publisher that he had been on a sick bed for a whole week.

“The whole of America wishes you a speedy recovery, and don’t ever call my number again.” Andrew laughed so much when he quoted the Yank’s downright sarcastic response!

Another reporter who worked for me when I was news editor at Sunday Sun, was Lucas “Styles” Ledwaba, who has since published a book on Marikana.

The young “Styles” was one of the best feature writers in modern journalism.

I was not surprised to recently stumble into his features in the hallowed pages of the Mail & Guardian.

Then there was the delinquent Jimmy Lekoto, who used to carry a copy of the newspaper to show off how he had his name in the printed press. May his soul rest in peace.

As a regular reader of The BEAT, you must have sensed that we are having lots of fun in our downtown Bela-Bela newsroom.

We always start the week with our pre-publication news conference on Mondays, whereby reporters and indeed the editor bounce off story ideas for the week ahead.

If you could be the fly on the wall, you would swear these conferences are nothing but a comedy show, with some ideas triggering laughter all-round.

On a sad note, the workaholic Justin Steyn spent the last week with us, as he has chosen to head towards greener pastures.

Justin remains an amazing young Afrikaner journo, who would walk into any township or village to follow up on breaking news, such as land invasions and political unrest.

Both editor and reporters have been sent back to the drawing boards, to see how we cover the courts and other beats entrusted to Justin over a period of time.

Wishing you the very best in your new ventures, ou seun.

And oh, we should be in touch going forward as you have identified me as manuscript editor for your book-in-progress.

21 days ago       01 March 2018